The Telegraph
Saturday , March 29 , 2014
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Bayern beckons Bengal boys

Krishanu Santra, Monoranjan Singh
Pictures by Arnab Mondal and Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

Krishanu Santra and Monoranjan Singh could not have asked for more when German great Paul Breitner, a left-back in the 1974 Fifa World Cup-winning team, ticked their names on a list of players for a stint at the Allianz Arena, the home of Bayern Munich.

Breitner, who had formed the formidable Breitnigge midfield with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge for Bayern, spotted Krishanu from Thakurpukur and Monoranjan of Kalyani during the Indian edition of the under-16 FC Bayern Youth Cup in Delhi.

The duo, currently training at Pune FC Academy, will don the India jersey in the final round of the seven-a-side tournament in Munich from May 18 to 22.

Metro takes a look at the two young talents.

Krishanu Santra

Jersey No. 5, left-winger

Born: August 5, 1998

Height: 5ft 7inch

Weight: 58kg

Club: He has been training at Pune FC Academy for almost a year following successful trials at the club’s under-17 camp. He is a student at the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and club-appointed tutors give him and his peers lessons every evening.

Cutting his soccer teeth: Inspired by father Kamal Santra, a former footballer who aspires to see “the son realise the father’s dream of playing in big clubs”, Krishanu kicked ball at a training ground at age five. Eight years later, he represented the under-13 national team at the AFC Championship in Iran.

Biggest achievement: Participated in the Airtel Rising Stars contest in 2012 and won a weeklong stint at Manchester United Soccer School. “The Old Trafford experience was like a dream.”

Ticket to Bayern: He is a defender who scores, much like Breitner. He netted three goals in three group league matches of the FC Bayern Youth Cup. Breitner was watching, though the boy’s ankle gave way before the semi-final and final. “It would be the experince of a lifetime for me to be in Bayern Munich.”

Club he roots for: Barcelona

A big fan of: Lionel Messi, a left-footed player like him.

Football fantasies: Usurping Jordi Alba’s position at Barcelona. A Mohun Bagan fan since childhood, but not keen on playing for any of the Maidan clubs.

Coach-speak: “Krishanu has a great left foot. He can shoot, play in central defence and cover the left wing. He loves to attack and that’s what Breitner liked about him,” said Sujay Sharma, the performance analyst and coach at Pune FC.

Monoranjan Singh

Jersey No. 16, right-back

Born: November 26, 1998

Height: 5ft 8inch

Weight: 62kg

Club: At Pune FC Academy, taking the same route as Krishanu. He dropped out of school after clearing Class VII, but the club is helping him study again after a gap of three years.

Cutting his soccer teeth: He started playing football at his school ground in Kalyani at age five. Soon coach Prashanta Sinha spotted him and took him under his wings. He joined Sports Authority of India’s Salt Lake facility at age 14 and trained there for two years. Lack of match practice prompted him to move to Pune where he now plays for the club’s U-17 squad in the local league.

Biggest achievement: “Getting noticed by Breitner and selected for the FC Bayern Youth Cup squad is the biggest prize for me till date. I hope valuable tips from the Bayern coaches will make me a better defender.”

Ticket to Bayern: He impressed everyone as a right-back as well as a captain during the U-16 tournament in Delhi. Led from the front to help Pune FC win the trophy. He also scored two goals.

Club he roots for: Real Madrid

A big fan of: Cristiano Ronaldo…“for his speed, skill, power and, of course, style!”

Football fantasies: Lead Team India and play for a foreign club. Plan B? Complete training in Pune and play for East Bengal.

Coach-speak: “A reliable right-back with great leadership qualities. He has the potential to make the senior Pune FC squad,” said Sujay Sharma.